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Maritime Law Enforcement

The Maritime Law Enforcement program preserves America’s jurisdictional rights within our maritime borders and suppresses violations of U.S. Federal  law on, under, and over the seas. The Coast Guard is the lead Federal maritime law enforcement agency for securing and managing our Nation’s maritime borders, and enforcing national and international law on the high seas, outer continental shelf, and inward from the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to inland navigable waters, including the Great Lakes.

New, state-of-the-art ships and enhanced intelligence capabilities complement the work of Coast Guard crews to stem the maritime drug flow. In 2015, the Service surpassed its 2014 mark of 140 metric tons of illegal drugs from the maritime domain, interdicting 179 metric tons and detaining 503 suspected smugglers for prosecution in the United States. In a period of less than 30 days, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter (CGC) BERTHOLF conducted 12 drug interdictions, resulting in the removal of over 33,000 pounds of cocaine and detention of 32 suspected smugglers. These operations included a record-breaking recovery of 15,000 pounds of cocaine from a single self-propelled semi-submersible smuggling vessel.

To protect America’s natural resources, endangered marine species, and marine sanctuaries, the Coast Guard conducted over 5,000 fisheries boardings on U.S. vessels. Close collaboration with partner agencies was a key part of this effort. For example, Coast Guard supported enforcement of Illegal, Unregulated, and Underreported (IUU) fishing. IUU fishing is global in reach, harmful to ecosystems and a threat to global food security. The Coast Guard’s efforts are critical to stemming this illegal activity. The Coast Guard detected 224 incursions of foreign flagged fishing vessels into America’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as part of these efforts in 2015.

The Coast Guard secures the Southern Border and Approaches by conducting patrols and coordinating with other Federal agencies and foreign countries to interdict undocumented migrants at sea, denying them entry via maritime routes to the United States, its territories and possessions. Thousands of people try to enter this country illegally every year using maritime routes, many via smuggling operations. Interdicting migrants at sea reduces the safety risks involved in such transits. Migrants can be quickly returned to their countries of origin, avoiding the more costly processes required if they successfully enter the United States. During 2015, the Coast Guard interdicted 6,000 undocumented migrants attempting to illegally enter the United States by maritime routes.

Our Budget at Work

As the lead federal agency for drug interdiction on the high seas, Coast Guard operations support national and international strategies to deter and disrupt illegal drug traffickers. These efforts are crucial to federal efforts to dismantle Transnational Organized Crime (TOC)/Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) and prevent transnational threats from reaching U.S. shores.

$4.9 billion Wholesale value of illegal narcotics removed by the Coast Guard in 2015.

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Last Modified 12/21/2016